Stress articles

Stress can be a motivator essential to survival. However, if it’s triggered too easily, or when there are too many stressors at one time, it can undermine a person's mental and physical health and become harmful.

 Stress and anxiety are often mentioned together, but they’re not the same thing. In fact, anxiety can be caused by stress – it’s what you feel when you’re uneasy about something, when you worry or when you’re afraid.Most people experience some level of anxiety from time to time. In many situations, feeling anxious is perfectly normal – if you’re taking your driving test, for instance, or going for a job interview. But once the situation has passed, your anxiety should disappear too. It becomes more of an issue when you feel overwhelmed by anxiety on a more frequent basis – or all the time.Anxiety can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as:Faster breathing or shortness of breathIncreased or irregular heart rateFeeling tired but not being able to sleepLight-headedness or dizzinessHeadacheFeeling restless, unable to concentrateSweating or having hot flushesFeeling constantly on edgeFearing the worst (having a sense of dread)Feeling that other people are looking at youNot being able to stop thinking about negative thingsNot being able to motivate yourself Anxiety levelsMild anxietyGenerally speaking, mild anxiety is the type that most of us experience on a day-to-day basis during certain situations. You may have an uneasy feeling in your stomach, and you may feel your pulse increase slightly. But anxiety at this level can also be beneficial, as it can help you to focus and increases your alertness.Moderate anxietyModerate anxiety is similar to mild anxiety but can become more severe and overwhelming, making you feel more nervous and agitated.Moderate anxiety can mean you place your complete attention on the thing or situation that’s making you feel anxious and ignore everything else around you. You may start to experience stronger physical and emotional anxiety symptoms such as muscle tension, sweaty palms, a shaky voice, back pain and changes in your sleep pattern. Emotionally you may feel more sensitive and excited than normal, and you may also feel less confident.Severe anxietySevere anxiety is the highest level, when you stop being able to think rationally and experience severe panic. You may feel afraid and confused, agitated, withdrawn and you may also find it difficult to think clearly. Your breathing may quicken, and you may start to perspire while your muscles will feel very tense.Anxiety disordersThere are also several anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Unlike being anxious about a specific thing or situation, GAD is when you feel anxious about lots of different issues, often for no good reason.Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a specific type of anxiety, where you feel very stressed or fearful about something traumatic that’s happened to you.Panic disorderPanic disorder is when you have panic attacks on a regular basis. A panic attack can make you feel nauseated, sweaty, shaky and lightheaded, and you may feel your heart beating very quickly or irregularly (palpitations). They may not be harmful in a physical sense, but panic attacks can be very frightening.PhobiasPhobias are also a type of anxiety disorder. You may have a phobia when you have an overwhelming or exaggerated fear of something that normally shouldn’t be a problem. Depending on what type of phobia you have, it can seriously affect your daily life as well as cause a great deal of distress.Social anxiety disorder – or social phobia – is a type of phobia where you have an intense fear of social situations.If you think you may have the symptoms of an anxiety disorder or if anxiety is a constant issue in your life, it’s important to get the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. CA Support has a confidential listening service and is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ieThis article was kindly provided by CABA

Sep 30, 2020

As the new school year approaches, anxiety is growing, and parents are conflicted. While we all accept the need for a return to school or college, it does mean that we must trust the plans and safeguards in place will work. Most children and teens are looking forward to returning to the classroom, however, the classroom will be very different, so as parents it is important to speak to your son/daughter before the term starts and ensure they are equipped and ready to adapt to the new ‘norm’ in school. You can support your child/teen through this transition back to school life. Here we have some top tips to guide these conversations:Ask how do they feel about going back to school? Listen carefully to the answer they may say what they think you want to hear. It is likely they will have mixed emotions, while they are eager to get back to the classroom, they have been safe at home with you or a trusted person for a long time now. Let them know that these feelings are ok and that everyone will most probably be feeling something similar. Set the scene. Give them as much information as possible. Most schools have been in contact with parents regarding the plans for re-opening and advised what is expected. The best thing you can do is make sure your son/daughter is informed, even if they are very young. Younger children can be assisted if they can see what is planned, so source photos or draw with them. Reassurance is key. Children are resilient, but they will need lots of re-assurance that returning to school is in their best interest. Their safety is a priority for their teachers, but they need to be aware of their own safety too. Let them know and understand how to stay safe in school e.g. washing their hands, not touching their face, listening to the teacher, and following the new rules.Keep the pressure off. Most children can adapt easily, but it will be a tricky time as a new routine needs to be established at home and in school, so be kind to yourself and don’t expect it all to happen overnight. Offer support, reassurance, and comfort, but don’t add any additional pressure, everyone will adapt at their own pace. Look forward. Much has changed since March and some of the changes in school will not be welcome. It is important to try and remain positive. This is not permanent and will end and we will be able to look forward and our feelings will change.Seek support. The transition may be more challenging to some children and they could find it difficult to adapt. If this happens speak to the school, they will be happy to help, remember they are doing everything they can so support students. If the difficulties persist and anxiety is becoming an issue seek support from your GP.Talk openly to teenagers they may be nervous about returning to school too, a lot has changed, including them and they could have worries you may not have considered. Teenagers still look to their parents for re-assurance and so it will be important that parents demonstrate confidence with the planed return to school. They learn essential social skills and how to interact with others, so encouragement is critical. You could also view handling the uncertainty and change   which was held by our Cork District Society recently.Teachers and school staff fully appreciate the apprehension and anxiety and want this transition back to school to work for everyone. They want to support students, ensure they are comfortable in school, and can continue to learn and move forward. By working together this can be achieved, with everyone playing their part.CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email: CASupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Aug 27, 2020

Your mental wellbeing is about your thoughts and feelings and how you cope with the ups and downs of everyday life.It's not the same thing as mental health, although the two can influence each other. Long periods of low mental wellbeing can lead to the development of diagnosable mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. If you're living with a mental health condition, you may experience low mental wellbeing more often, but there will also be long periods where you're able to maintain good mental wellbeing.What does good mental wellbeing look like?Importantly, good mental wellbeing is NOT the absence of negative thoughts and feelings. We all face difficult and challenging situations that cause us to feel angry, sad, overwhelmed and everything in-between. Instead, it's about being able to understand and manage those feelings, so that generally you're able to:feel confident in yourselfbuild and maintain positive relationshipshave a sense of purposelive and work productivelycope with the normal stresses of day-to-day lifemanage when things changeWhat can affect your mental wellbeing?Our mental wellbeing is often affected by big life events that we have little or no control over such as bereavement, illness, or redundancy. In these situations, it's about how we respond - our behaviours and habits - that will determine the impact on our mental wellbeing. For example, do we tend to reach out for support or withdraw? Do we assume the worst or remain open to new opportunities?It's here that our level of resilience comes into play. Resilience is your ability to cope with change and adversity. By strengthening your resilience, you're better able to maintain good mental wellbeing through all of life's ups and downs.There are also factors that influence our mental wellbeing, which we can control.1. Our relationshipsStrong connections with friends, family and colleagues help to strengthen our confidence and self-esteem.2. Our physical healthThrough good nutrition and regular physical activity, we can boost our energy levels, improve our confidence, and relieve stress. Small changes make a big difference. 3. Our emotional healthPracticing mindfulness can help you understand and manage strong emotions so that rather than feeling overwhelmed, you're able to approach difficult situations with a sense of calm and clarity. The big pictureAt CA Support, our vision is for all members of the chartered accountant community to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. The key to this is empowering you to take care of your own mental wellbeing. Because when you don't feel quite yourself, other areas of your life are affected too. Our services can help you balance all aspects of your wellbeing, so you can live the life you want to.CONTACT USContact us through email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or call us on (353) 86 024 3294 we will be happy to assist.Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members and students.

Jul 23, 2020

“I’m going to like you.We’re going to be friends.”…is what I said to my Management Accounting book, the week after the CAP1s. Coming out of the exam hall, I knew that I had failed that subject. I’d put in the time studying, but didn’t understand it, and counted on enough of the theory coming up to cover myself. But it didn’t. So each evening, after work, I’d sit down to study. Friends teased me for being such a nerd- the results weren’t out yet!As predicted, I’d failed- scoring 25%. I continued to tell myself that I liked the subject as I studied. September came, and so did the repeat. I was on holiday and had just finished a hot air balloon ride when the Partner called me with the result- 62%. I felt sky high again!The science part…I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been practising “Neuro-Associative Conditioning”, a human behavioural science developed by Coach Tony Robbins. It’s all about changing our attitudes to increase our likelihood of success.What’s your current association to exam success?You want it, but thoughts of “what if I fail?”, “I just don’t understand it!” “I’ll do it later…” might be stronger in your nervous system. To get the results you want requires more than positive thinking- you need to change the meaning you give to study and actually feel good about doing it- from your head to your heart, right down to your gut!There are no shortcuts to success, but here are some ways that you can re-programme your mind to facilitate it:1. Begin with the end in mindThink of the big picture and take time to question- why are you doing this? It might be painful to sit down and study when you want to do other things, but ask yourself “what pleasure is it going to bring to my life in the long term?”…greater security, increased opportunities, a sense of achievement?  Once you’ve done this:• Write down what it is that’s driving you.• Spend a few moments daily, before you start studying, imagining your ideal future and reminding yourself that what you do in the present, will help to take you there. • Really feel and visualise your success to get it ingrained in your nervous system. Get excited about it!2. Get familiar and get it out of the wayWe don’t like changing our habits. Therapist Marissa Peer notes that the mind instinctively rejects what’s unfamiliar to us and returns to the familiar. This keeps us alive, protecting us from things perceived as dangerous. But this approach doesn’t always serve us- sticking to the familiarity of studying theory didn’t work for me. Good news though- studies show that it is possible to make what we don’t want to do familiar to us. We may even end up enjoying it! You just have to start the behaviour. Do it before you get comfortable doing something else. By consistently repeating, “I will make this familiar/I will like you”, you will. You can choose how you feel about something- knowing this gives you control. Getting what you dislike doing out of the way by prioritising it is empowering.3. Mind your languageListen to the language you use to describe studying. Are the words “hate”, “painful”, or negative sound effects common?Switching to more neutral language makes the process far more manageable. Phrases like:“I am determined to be a success, and I am prioritising my studies for me and my future”, or“I am choosing to feel great about doing what I don’t want to do” are great for interrupting our mind from negative internal conversations. 4. Celebrate your winsFocusing on your reward system will instil the habit of doing what you like least first. Maybe this is the lack of guilt/feeling of accomplishment by getting it done? Take your breaks and give yourself something to look forward to. And remember…Nothing is wasted. All the work you put in now will help going forward. Keep focused on that promising future of yours as you sit down with those books in the present!CA Support are here to assist you and we can be contacted on email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294.  There are also other video supports on mindset available on our site.Article written byCharlotte Keating is a Member and Life, Business & Creativity Coach. With both trainee and managerial experience, she established Act On It Coaching to help fellow Chartered Accountants, trainees and other professionals achieve more balance and fulfilment in their lives. To get in touch or to find out more, visit www.actonitcoaching.com or contact charlotte@actonitcoaching.com

Jul 22, 2020

Change is the one constant thing in our lives, we are surrounded by change the weather change several times in one day, but we adapt. However, some people embrace change and see opportunities to grow and learn and others dread it and find it very difficult to adapt.  Changes which are outside our control and not expected are more difficult to accept e.g. dealing with unexpected illness, job loss, recession, or a major disaster. Some changes can be very positive and open opportunities to learn new things, develop new skills or qualities we didn’t know we had. As children we accept change easily, but as adults our brain and body block change and the chemistry of how our brain copes with change is very interesting. We hosted a webinar with Dr Celine Mullin called Creating habits beyond Covid 19 in which she describes this process and how we can create habits which will enable us to adapt to change more effectively We also have some handy tips that may help. Just remember that dealing with change is rarely instant, and that coping with or adapting to change can take time. See things differently Instead of dreading the changes in your life, try to see each as an opportunity to learn. If you can see change in a positive – rather than negative – light, it can boost your resilience and help you deal with it more positively too. This can be especially helpful at work, since having a negative attitude towards change could mean you'll be overlooked when new and interesting projects come along. These days work environments are changing at a faster pace than ever, so seeing change as something to grasp with both hands instead of something to fear and resist could bring many new opportunities. Meanwhile, instead of letting change creep up on you, try to be more proactive and look out for any changes that may be coming. Thinking ahead and planning can also make you feel that you have more control over what happens to you. Keep a record The next time you're faced with a major change, keeping a note of how you feel about it, as well as how you plan to deal with it, could be useful. Instead of burying your head in the sand and hoping everything will go back to normal, write about your feelings towards whatever is changing in your life. After you have recorded your feelings, decide what you want to achieve in respect to the change in question. Then write down your goals and how you plan to make them happen, including the skills you have that could help. Be really specific where your goals are concerned and think about how you can measure your success. Don't forget to set achievable goals and, where possible, set a clear timeframe for reaching them. Also try finding the benefits or opportunities that this change might bring and write them down too. If you have been affected by things such as bereavement, illness, redundancy or financial loss, this can obviously be difficult – but those who look hard enough can often find something to be positive about, no matter how small. Make a point of writing at least one benefit a day. Move on When change comes along that you can't control, don't let it get the better of you. Try to carry on with everything else in your life as normally as possible, as this itself can reinforce the ways in which your life isn't changing – which itself can be reassuring. Realise that there are some things you can do, and some things that you can't do, and instead of dwelling on any mistakes you may have made, put them behind you and move on. One way to keep your worries in perspective is to take a long-term view. For instance, how do you see the changes that are happening now affecting you in one, two or even six months? Remind yourself that change itself never lasts, and that things will become normal again at some point as the change becomes more familiar to you. Be a team player Helping others is a great way to gain experience and build resilience, so take every opportunity to make life easier for those around you who are experiencing changes. And when you find yourself affected by change, don't try to go it alone – know when to ask for help. Build a network of people who can support and guide you whenever you need them, and support and guide them when they need help too. For instance, if you are experiencing changes at work, talk to your colleagues and find out how they are coping. You could well find that you can help each other to manage any changes that are happening in the office more effectively. Look after yourself Change can be exhausting on an emotional – and often physical – level. So instead of battling through it, take time to recharge your batteries. This doesn't have to involve a complete break but could be something as simple as taking a walk in the fresh air to clear your head. Sometimes change can also mean less time to yourself – after having a promotion at work, for instance, when you may feel pressured into working longer hours. At times like these it's especially important to remember to eat healthily, to get some exercise and to relax as much as possible when you're not at work. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world

Jun 18, 2020

William is a Chartered Accountant who had his own business, but because of circumstances beyond his control he lost his business, his home and suffered with depression. CA Support have helped him throughout these difficult times, and he has given his permission for us to share his story with you. As a Chartered Accountant, I worked with a professional firm until 1985 when the entire department in which I worked was made redundant. With a partner I started my own business importing ladies fashion dresses and accessories from Hong Kong. It was very successful; the items were sold in exclusive outlets throughout the country. All went well until a supermarket chain sold identical items at a much lower price. My business partner left me with extensive business debts, so I had no choice but to sell my home. I was not aware of the Benevolent Society (CA Support) until I rang to explain why I could not pay my annual subscription fee. It was a huge relief to discover that there was support available to me. I worked hard to get my qualification and wanted to keep my membership up to date. On the initial call I explained my circumstances and it was a relief to have a friendly non-judgmental voice on the phone. There was a lot of unemployment at the time due to a severe economic downturn. To help those affected, the Benevolent Society (CA Support) hired the ballroom in the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge and asked me to address the large audience of unemployed accountants. The Institute then set up a small department to assist and offer advice to those who were unemployed. I was very glad I was able to help. I don’t know how I would have managed in the years that followed without their support. I am a very independent person, so the lack of control over my life was extremely difficult to accept. I was unable to find employment, my age went against me and I was also told that I was over-qualified. I turned to writing and had some short stories and magazines published. But the money didn’t cover a fraction of my outgoings, Unfortunately in the winter of 2013 I found myself homeless. I approached the DLR Housing Department and was initially promised accommodation but, the promise was not fulfilled. I was advised I could go into a hostel with the warning that I might have to share with a drug addict, an alcoholic or someone with mental health problems. It was only with the help of a compassionate community officer and my rector that my situation was resolved. Thankfully, I now have a home again I don’t know if I will ever forget that fearful experience, of not knowing what was going to happen to me. I still struggle to find words to express how awful it was. With assistance from CA Support I was able to go in a new direction. I continued with my writing, gave a series of public talks on the effect of suicide on those left behind and last September I gave a talk on the emotional impact of homelessness on mental health at the request of The Irish Council of Churches. For this, I could draw on my own personal experience of having been homeless. I have no doubt that there are others who have stories to tell on how CA Support has helped their lives and continue to do so. Speaking for myself, I hope that those who can will continue to support this organisation, especially now during the current Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertain future that face us all.   William Blackall CA Support are supporting our members and their families always. If you would like to help or if you need help please contact us by email or on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294.

Jun 04, 2020